Representative Of The Year

One does not have to be a brilliant semanticist to know that a representative is one who represents. And no one is more representative of the American people today than the Honorable Wayne Hays of Ohio.

He “portrays” and “typifies” (to use my dictionary’s words) us well. We Americans admire cantankerous, tough leaders. (Didn’t Blood and Guts Patton become a folk hero during the Nixon years?) We appreciate people who understand power and are not afraid to use it. And Hays fits the bill. According to Washington insiders. Hays ran the House Administration Committee and the Congressional Campaign Committee with an iron and vindictive hand.

Hays also represents us sexually. Many of us participate in and wink at sexual indiscretions. We’re like the old man reported by Time magazine who wanted to know Hays’s secret for sexual potency after age sixty-five. We good-naturedly elbow each other in the ribs when we hear of hanky-panky. And evidently Hays hanked and panked. He bragged of his nightly exploits almost daily.

Most of us don’t call such indiscretions sin. We call them “peccadillos,” ’ which means “a slight offense; a petty fault.” (I previously thought peccadillos were assistants to Spanish bullfighters.)

We Americans also admire those who know how to use money to achieve goals. Hays does. The way he wrapped purse strings around power is legendary on Capitol Hill. And Hays typifies us too well when it comes to the use of others’ money for our own ends. (Think through your own use of expense-account, income-tax, and “tithe” money.) But when Wayne represented us too well in this area, we rebelled. He could have his peccadillos, we said, but not with our money. And so the Honorable Wayne Hays has fallen.

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